McKenzie Free

One woman's quest for greater understanding through freedom of self expression.

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Women, gals, babes, chicks, ladies, etc.

Here is what’s on my mind today.  I should be thinking about finding a job since I just resigned my current position and will be penniless soon.  Instead I’m wondering why it is so difficult for so many men to use the term “woman” when referring to members of the opposite sex.  Since I’m still single at 62 (yes, get that word out there, there must be one good man left somewhere!) I read a lot of profiles on dating sites.  In not one of them have I ever found man who is looking for a woman.  They are all looking for a “sweet gal”, a “nice girl”, a “beautiful lady”, a “loyal spouse”, a “good-looking babe”, a “down-to-earth Princess” (what an oxymoron that one is!).  There are so many terms I could go on almost endlessly: little woman; old lady; ball and chain; chick; queen bee; dame.   Apparently there are no men, at least in my age group, looking for a woman.

Full disclosure….no one who knows me would ever describe me as a “sweet gal”.   My friends who are reading this all have big grins on their faces right now just thinking about it.  I’m a strong woman: funny; irreverent; loyal; passionate.  I can be sweet…I AM sweet sometimes…but no one would describe me as sweet or as a gal.  This puts me at a complete disadvantage when looking for a man.

My last long-term relationship came about because after meeting me for the first time, my date wrote me an email in which he referred to me as a “strong woman”.  He wasn’t afraid of it, didn’t expect me to hide it or apologize for it, and let me know he’d be there for me if there were times I didn’t want to have to be so strong.  Those words endeared him to me immediately and he remains a cherished friend.

Women, and the Marines,  continue to look for a few good men.  We find it easy and simple to use that word to describe members of the opposite sex.  I’m sincerely interested to hear some male perspectives about why it seems difficult and awkward for most men to refer to women as women.


“In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” Alfred Tennyson

It’s spring and a time when both young and old men’s minds appear to turn to thoughts of…well…getting laid.  I wish it turned to thoughts of love but in my experience this doesn’t seem to be the case.  I think old Al was just trying to stay within the confines of polite society when he wrote that.

This period when men’s minds take this flight of fancy is very brief.  It appears to take place sometime between the end of hunting season and the beginning of trout stocking by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.  But, if you stay alert, the signs are all around us.

Men who normally never look up from their cell phones look up and smile when you walk into a bar or restaurant.  Some may even say hello while in line with you at the coffee shop or grocery store.   And all of the sudden your online dating profile that hasn’t gotten a response from an authentic person (other than continual hits by online scammers easily weeded out by emails such as “Good Morning by Beauty, my Queen”) has some winks and greetings from living, breathing males.

Unfortunately, as appears true with all things in life, this too has its pros and cons.   Men and women’s brain really don’t function the same and if you look at the differences, especially those involved in dating and mating, it’s sometimes amazing the species manages to continue to procreate at all.

In my use of online dating sites I’ve noted one very important difference and that is: men only look at the pictures.   Women will look at the pictures and review the background of the photo looking for clues into the man’s lifestyle choices.  We will read the profile in detail (assuming they’ve written one, many men only fill in the number of spaces needed with Xs).  We will ask our friends for their opinion of what we’ve read and viewed.   We may be attracted to a man but we still want to know if he’s smart, kind, funny, a homebody or a nightowl. We want to know whether or not he’ll want to go dancing, hiking or to the theatre with us.

Men, on the other hand, look at the photos.  If they are attracted to you it doesn’t seem to matter if you have nothing at all in common, are as high maintenance as possible, or have been married ten times.   Those things can all be overlooked because they are focused on visual cues only.  If you don’t believe me check out “The Triggers of Sexual Desire: Men vs. Women”, Leon Seltzer, Psychology Today.  Neuroscience apparently has proven what some of us have always known.

So what this looks like on the receiving side of this male interest is an inbox full of emails from men who are very clearly, right from the beginning, not partner material.  Yet, when you point out to them that you have nothing in common, do not share similar tastes or lifestyles, they fail to see it.  They either get angry at your for not “giving them a chance”, or argue with you that “you won’t know until you try it”.

I would hope that at a certain age, and this writer is now (as much as I hate to admit it) over 60, you would “know before you try it”.  I know I will not be compatible with a man whose income is well below mine.  Not because I’m a money-grubbing hussy, but because I want a partner who can afford to enjoy the same lifestyle that I do.  It simply won’t work out when he can’t afford the dinner out, the movie or theatre ticket, or the vacation that I can afford and very much want to take.

I know I will not be able to date a smoker.  I’ve tried it before and I am way too allergic for this to work out no matter how much I may care for a person.

I know that if a man is old enough to date me and has never been married or lived with someone longer than five years…. he most likely won’t be able to relate to my life experiences.

I know that if a man is very serious and doesn’t get my (sometimes dark and morbid) sense of humor that we will not last.

So, I very much appreciate the “likes” on my photos; I’m grateful for the compliments; but I’m also happy to know that the first rivers and reservoirs are being stocked with trout this weekend!

The worst real estate deal that never got done (and how you can avoid the same mistake)

A couple of years ago I had a great plan for my future.  I was going to sell my house, pay off all of my debt, and purchase a very small condo with just enough room for the essentials of life.  What ended up happening was one of the worst mistakes of my adult life.

First, instead of calling the realtor I knew was the best in the area, I contacted another realtor who was a friend.  I thought that selling my home would not be difficult based on it’s location and price point and that she could certainly use the commission.

My back yard lawn had died the previous summer and she insisted I replace it with sod in order to make the property saleable (read, spend dollars$$$$).  I also needed to replace the flooring in the back bedroom where I had pulled up the carpet the year before (more $$$).

After months of the daily struggle to keep the house viewing ready, after very little traffic and on the same day I was going to call and fire her, we received an offer on the house.  It was a bit lower than what I originally wanted but I worked the numbers and decided to accept.  The buyers had a funding pre-approval letter from a mortgage brokerage firm that has a good reputation.

I began to prepare for closing by selling and giving away all my possessions that were not essential.  This included furniture (beds from the extra rooms, my mother’s dining room table, book shelves), lawn furniture, tools (saws, ladder, lawn mower), the freezer from the garage, etc.  I pared down my possessions until I had just enough to fill a one bedroom apartment.

Next, I went in search of an apartment with a short-term lease to move into while looking for the perfect condo to purchase.  The rental costs in the area surprised me, apparently driven higher than one would expect from a town this size by the local university housing shortage.  After exploring what the area had to offer and trying to stay within my budget I put a deposit down on an apartment and began to plan my move.

I hired local movers, set a date to turn my utilities off at the old house and on at the apartment, changed my mailing address, and all the other things one does when planning a household move.

Then, the closing date was pushed back by the buyers, not by a few days, but by weeks.  Their funding was taking longer than anticipated.  Understandable, I suppose, but it caused me to have to let the apartment go rather than pay rent on two places and my initial deposit of $500 was not refundable.  This was becoming a costlier move than anticipated.

I set about undoing all my moving prep and began my apartment search anew.  I found another apartment, available for move in a month later than the first one, and placed a deposit down again.  Meanwhile, I began packing for the intended move.

Three days before our closing date I had no word from my realtor about setting a specific time and place so I contacted her to get the information.  I was told again that the buyers still had not received funding.  Now, I was getting angry, and I didn’t understand how this could be the case.  In the past I’d received a closing date within days of the loan going to the underwriter.  So I contacted another friend, a mortgage broker who just happened to work where the buyers had received a pre-approval letter, and asked her what might be holding up the funding.  She couldn’t tell me anything confidential, of course, but what she could tell me was that they had denied my buyers funding three days after they had put an offer on my house.  The moment they got past the pre-approval into real due diligence they hit an insurmountable road block.

I called my real estate agent and asked if she had known this.  Her response:  “Oh, yeah, did I forget to tell you that?”  She then begged me to hang in there with her and even had the buyers current mortgage broker call and beg me not to walk away from the deal, given me extensive details about the couple’s autistic children and how badly they needed my house.   Against my better judgement, I waited again.  At one point my realtor actually suggested I put all of my things in storage and go live with my sister until the deal finalized.

I’m sure by now you know what happened.   The buyers never received funding, the deal fell through, and I was now sitting in a packed up three bedroom home with very little furniture, not much on the walls and none of the tools necessary for upkeep.  I was out several thousand dollars, including another apartment deposit and repairs to the home requested by the buyer.  I also lost a friend.

Because my realtor never informed me that the buyers had failed to get funded initially, I was denied the opportunity to walk away from the deal at that time or to include an addendum that if they failed to receive funding I would be able to keep their earnest money.  Because of my realtor’s incompetence, I lost thousands of dollars with no recourse to be reimbursed.

If you use a realtor to buy or sell a home ensure that you choose wisely.  Ask for referrals and call for references.   A good realtor should keep you informed daily about traffic on their website and within your market area.  They should always have your interests in the forefront, not their own or that of the other party.  If you do not feel you are getting the service you are going to pay a very high price for at closing…do not hesitate to cancel the contract and move forward with someone else.  Your home is your biggest asset; protect it as vigorously as possible.








via Daily Prompt: Restart

What a perfect daily prompt for me!  I get a kick out of the way when anything goes wrong with your computer or software the first thing your IT Technician will ask is: “Did you try restarting your computer; modem; roku box; etc.?”  I love that with technology you can just hit the restart button and hope for improved results.

As anyone who struggles with clinical depression knows, you don’t need anything in your life to actually be depressed about for your mind to trigger a depressive episode. However when bad things do happen it makes it doubly difficult to keep yourself on a level playing field.  Depression usually represents repressed anger which has been turned inward.  In my instance,  I have been angry at myself for a very along time for all of the seemingly bad decisions I have made since my divorce twelve years ago.

Over the course of the last two years several depressing life events occurred.   For very complicated reasons I broke off my engagement to a wonderful man; I lost thousands of dollars when the sale of my home fell through; and then the country elected a misogynistic Cheeto as our nation’s commander and chief.  These sad developments piled one on top of another until I fell into a pit of despair that I was unable to climb out of.

After two years of isolating myself (isolation of family and friends is one of the key signs of depression), lacking energy, feeling exhausted, gaining 35 lbs., and abusing alcohol I had a wake up call.  I was given an opportunity to visit Australia this January.  A free vacation made possible by an old friend who I greatly love and admire.  Three weeks in the sunshine in what is normally a dark and dreary time of year here.  Most likely the best vacation I’ve ever had and yet I was unable to feel the level of joy I knew this experience should bring. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good trip, but everything was a bit dulled.

This realization was the impetus I needed to make some drastic changes in my life.   Three things collided and helped to hit the “restart” button on my brain.   First, we have had a mild winter with much less rain than usual.  This added to my three weeks in sunny Australia helped lighten my mood.

Second, I visited a sleep doctor to see if C-Pap masks have gotten any better since I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea ten years ago.  (Patients with obstructive sleep apnea wear a face mask during sleep which is connected to a pump  that forces air into the nasal passages at pressures high enough to overcome obstructions in the airway and stimulate normal breathing.)  As it turns out the new masks are far more comfortable and less claustrophobic than those I couldn’t tolerate previously.  This has led to me being able to getting a good night’s restorative sleep for the first time in ten years.

Third, and most important, I stopped drinking alone at night.  Always a social drinker, for the last two years I began having a glass of wine every evening to unwind after a stressful day at work, and to counteract all the caffeine I was drinking to help stay awake at work every day after a night without restorative sleep.  A glass of wine over the course of time became a bottle of wine.  Alcohol is a depressant, so although I continued to take my anti-depressant every morning, I was pouring a depressant down my throat every evening.

For a month I quit drinking altogether whether I was out to dinner with friends or home alone.  Now I allow myself a glass of wine or two when socializing, but I  have one firm, fast rule; No drinking alone (and the dog doesn’t count–I must be with a human companion!)

As of today I have more energy than I’ve had in years and I once again look forward to time spent socializing with family and friends.  I am playing with my dog, singing to myself as I go about my household chores, and laughing at the daily frustrations in life that used to make me feel that I couldn’t go on.

I am still saddened that our current President’s racist, homophobic and misogynistic behavior make it appear as though the country’s social consciousness hasn’t improved since the 1950s, but it is no longer making me unable to get out of bed in the morning.  I have hit the restart button on my brain and I’m enjoying life again.




 “We are all only one step away from insanity.”

Morgaine Eucalyptus Freeman, Death Row Inmate, Mississippi State Penitentiary


I sensed something wasn’t right that day.  Although all the windows were open the air was too still.  It felt like it does when you walk into a house that’s been closed up for months. So I wandered outside to the front porch with my coffee to see if I could catch a breeze.

John had gotten up hours ago and was off on an errand of some kind.  He was always busy although it seemed nothing ever came of all his activity.  My mother would have called it “puttering” although that was a term usually applied to much older men than John.

I heard a noise from the barn and saw a flock of sparrows fly up into the trees.   We called it a barn, and I suppose it was once, but now it was just a dilapidated out-building used for nothing but storing the remains of projects John had set aside each time something more intriguing came along.  John had big plans to repair it when we first bought the property but, as with many things, the plans never became a reality.

I heard another noise.  I couldn’t quite place the sound so I got up from the porch and wandered out to see what it was.  Probably a small animal had gotten itself trapped in there somehow.   Hopefully not a possum.  We’d had a possum live under our porch for a while and they were mean creatures.

As I neared the barn door the noise became clearer and, although I didn’t want to believe what my brain was telling me, it was moaning.   The long, low moaning of a woman in the throws of sexual pleasure.   I walked in to see my neighbor Tessie, up against the wall, dress thrown up around her waist, her legs spread wide.  A man was kneeling before her with his head in her crotch.  I knew the back of that head and those broad shoulders intimately.  I recognized the jeans I had just washed, folded and put away in his dresser the previous night.

I picked up the closest thing to me, which was an old shovel leaning against the wall, and I swung it at his head.  He fell aside and I swung at her knocking her down. And then I just kept swinging until there was blood everywhere and I had no more strength.

My name is Evelyn Moore and I now reside in Salem, Oregon.  I’m an inmate at the Oregon State Prison.  That’s where you go when you beat two people to death with a shovel and then call 911 to tell them you think some people are dead.  This is the end of my story and every day now I wonder when my story took a turn towards this ending.   Had I always had that violence in me?  Had I wanted John dead for a long time like the District Attorney said I did?   Was that always somewhere deep inside me, only to come out that day?  Where did it begin?

I have very few memories from my early childhood.  The shrinks here all have different theories about why this is.  Perhaps nothing too memorable happened, or perhaps horrible things happened and not remembering them is my minds way of protecting me.  We will never know.  My first vivid memory is when I was about five years old.


In a writing class I’m taking one woman repeatedly asked the same question over and over again one night.  Her question was “Why?”  What she wanted to know was, “Why would anyone want to read what I have to write?”   When asked why she reads, she replied, “I don’t really.   I don’t have time.  I’m basically illiterate?”  You might think in a class of writers that we would take offense to someone who doesn’t read but I sensed nothing of the sort among us.  I can’t answer for everyone but I suspect that most of us write for the same reason we read, and for the same reason I’d like to read her stories, and it’s because I’m continually asking the same question she is, “Why?”

I began writing as soon as I learned to hold a pen and I’ve always been an incessant reader.   Put me in a room with nothing to read and I’ll find a poster on the wall or directions on how to use the microwave and I’ll start reading.   Reading and writing have always been a means for me to try and understand “Why?”  The heading on my blog remains “One woman’s quest for greater understanding through freedom of self-expression”.

Since I was born I’ve been trying to figure out why people act the way they do?  Why was I put on the planet and is any of it supposed to make any sense?  Why do we respond the way we do in situations? Why is one person considered successful and another not?  Why are parents, who are the people children rely on to keep them safe, often the ones who harm children the most?  Why did Michael O’Brien love his baseball cap more than me?  Why did my brother cut off all my dolly’s hair?  Why did my sister wear seven pairs of socks and take one off each day so it would look like she had clean one’s on?  Why are people attracted to each other?  Why didn’t my Daddy love me?  Or, if he did, why couldn’t he show it?  Why does the one male director in my Agency seem to not have to follow any rules of norm?   Why have I failed to find a lasting partner while my best friends are happily ensconced in a long-term love affair with each other that’s lasted 30 years?  Why? Why? Why?   I’m like a three year old who never got past the questioning phase.  Everything about human behavior is interesting to me and I want to know more about it.

Currently one of the most popular TV programs on the air is NBC’s number 1 rated “This Is Us”.   According to Forbes Online, the trailer for the second season of this show got a whopping 105 million views.  What’s the show about?   A family.  A mother, a father, and three kids.  Regular parents with a relatively regular family.  Two twins, a boy and a girl, and an adopted brother born on the same day.   The children are adults when the show takes place with weekly flashbacks into their lives growing up.

Why is it so popular?   I think it’s because we all want to know the answer to “why”?    Why is one twin a normal weight while the other is morbidly obese?  Why did the parents choose not to tell the adopted son about his birth parents?   Why were the parents attracted to each other?  Was their style of parenting like ours?  Like our parents? Is it better?  Is it worse?  Did it work?

We all read and watch and write in order to be entertained, certainly.  But why is it entertaining?   It entertains us because it’s a way of trying to understand the world around us and the life we find ourselves living.  If next season finds that Chrissy Metz, who plays the twin sister Kate, is suddenly able to drop 100 pounds and find solace in something other than food I will be on the edge of my seat hoping she has finally solved the riddle of why so many of us have this love/hate struggle with food.  Why do we struggle when so many others don’t?  Why is this our particular cross to bear?

So I continue to ask the question, “Why?”, and in response to my fellow classmate I want to read your story because I’m fascinated by human behavior and still desperate to know:  Why were you in the dorm room to begin with, why was your hand on that suitcase so ready to flee, why were you still in the room when the roommate and her mother finally appeared, what happened next and ….why?…why?….why???

The Front Line is Wherever You Are

I have been in an inconsolable depression since the election.  I don’t mean in a slump.  I mean in a black spiral falling deeper and deeper into a hole that appears to have no bottom.  I am not a partisan person.  It has nothing to do with Democrats and Republicans.  I’m pretty much a free thinker and I don’t believe I’ve ever met someone who believes in exactly the things I do.

One thing I do believe in is the struggle between good and evil. It takes place in each of us every day as we consider whether or not to do what is right, or what is usually easier.    Right now my fear is that evil has a grip on our country in a way I’ve never before seen in my lifetime.  My depression stems from fear.   Fear that we may see the type of pure evil again that many of our parents lived through in the Second World War

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. There is contention about who should be attributed with these words; Edmond Burke, Charles F. Aked, John F. Kennedy, but in the end it really doesn’t matter who first spoke this truth.  It only matters that it is a truth.  Today, some good men and women in all parts of the political spectrum are standing back and letting what they know is evil take place.  I can’t begin to imagine or pretend to know their motives.  I think many of them are just in denial and don’t want to admit how badly they erred in judging our new President’s character.

What I do know is that for me, I think the only way out of my spiraling depression is to stand.  Stand up for something again and don’t back down.  Stand up for what I believe is right.  Stand up tall and strong with others who are as frightened as I am about what is happening in this country and say “no, not here, not on our watch.  We won’t let it happen.  We want our country to continue to stand for freedom, inclusion and social justice.  We want a kind country with arms reaching out to embrace those in need.  We will not close our borders.  We will not run in fear.  We will continue to fight for human rights for all people.”

At first I felt the need to rush back to DC.  I thought that’s where the front line was.  That’s where the real fight was happening.  I should be back there with my old friends and colleagues fighting the good fight.  But after a bit of thinking I realized that’s not the case.  The real front line is in whatever country, whatever state, whatever town, whatever room we find ourselves in.  The fight is everywhere and holding the line is as simple as not laughing at the racist joke at work; greeting each person we meet with compassion; not allowing bigoted behavior to go unchallenged in any form.  Holding the line is simply living your beliefs wherever you find yourself and speaking up whenever you see injustice taking hold. 

Realizing once again that each of us can make a difference has helped me to climb to the top of the pit.  I’m not out of the dark hole yet, but I can see light above.  A light that grows brighter each time I see someone standing up and holding the line.


There is a gaping hole inside of me

Which nightly I try to fill up

With mounds and mounds of food

And sometimes sex with inappropriate men who like fat girls

It is a gaping hole which by now is the size of a basketball

A small hole that was ripped larger and larger by

my alcoholic father and crazy brother

Made bigger with each failed marriage

That grew to make room for the babies I could never have

And is currently being fed by fear of the spot on my liver

Fear of joining my cancer-ridden siblings in death

At night I feed it with pound cake and chips and red wine

During the day I feed it with professionalism

as I try to do one thing in life well

and sometimes with screaming unprofessionalism

as I fail to succeed in a dysfunctional workplace

At times, like this morning, when I am too exhausted to

stand up straight and carry on in the morning light

At times like this when I stop for a moment and sit very still

Alone with my thoughts

I simply sob until I have no more tears

And then I get up and get on with my day

Wondering if I will ever be able to heal this gaping hole

Or if it’s too late for a full recovery

perhaps just something to shore it up and keep it from engulfing me.

The Easy Chair

Oh how I wish I could write like Barbara Kingsolver.  All I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember is to be able to write in a way that elicits emotions from people.  Sometimes emotions they don’t even know they have.  To write something with a kernel of profound truth that people can relate to and say, “that’s it…that’s just how that feels”.

In Kingsolver’s “Pigs in Heaven” her first six paragraphs describe exactly how if feels to be in a relationship after a certain age.  Those sentences resonate with everything I’ve been feeling of late.  As I get older my world is becoming smaller and smaller, my desire for things less and less, and my desire for intimate conversation greater and greater, while at exactly the same moment in time the average man seems to have used up his lifetime allotment of words.

The middle aged man spending his days in his easy chair couldn’t have become a cliche unless there was some truth in it.  Kingsolver’s descripton, “his Naugahyde recliner confronts her, smug as a catcher’s mitt, with a long, deep impression of Harland running  down it’s center” describes it better than I’ve ever heard or read it described.  I’ve seen that same impression in more men’s chairs than I’d care to admit.

The easy chair has always made me sad.  Not because it eludes to TV watching.  I can be the Queen of Netflix marathons myself.  I thinks it’s the singleness of the chair.  Where I would prefer to snuggle up and share my experience with someone (one of my fondest memories is spending an entire day with my God daughter on the sofa watching episode after episode of “Cake Boss” together until someone had to come and force us to shut it off) the easy chair sits alone and seems to say “there’s no room for anyone but me here…leave me alone”.

I have a single, male friend whose living room is set up with the requisite enormous flat screen TV with his comfortable easy chair right smack dab in the center of the room and a sofa pushed back against one wall.  Even when told he doesn’t see that this set up says to all who enter, “it’s all about my comfort…you sit over there against the wall and don’t bother me.”

I am a middle-aged woman, and one on the down hill side of that bell curve.  I am beginning to understand that the chances of meeting a man my age who has a serious desire for emotional and intellectual intimacy is slightly less than the chance of me ever fitting into my original size 6 wedding dress again.  Even if the intimacy were to be there to couple lifestyles at such an age would likely be as uncomfortable of a fit as that dress.

I guess the moral of this story is that I will now have plenty of time to devote to improving my writing skills.




The Affair

He was forty and growing restless in his marriage. She was twenty-eight. Beautiful and vibrant in a way that only those who live life fully can be. They met completely by accident. This may be difficult for some to even imagine in our current world of online profiles, emails and texting, but at one time people used to bump into each other in public and strike up random, friendly conversations with one another.

She dropped a package on the street while trying to open the door to the book store with her elbow. He picked up her package and got the door for her. Neither were there for the books as it turned out, but rather for the coffee shop in the rear as a respite from the crowds of holiday shoppers. They chatted as they stood in line waiting to order. As it turned out, once they got their drinks there was only one table left available and they sat down and shared a warm beverage together.

He did not lie or act coy about the fact of his wife and children. In fact, he spoke of them lovingly and with pride. Oddly, this made him more attractive to her. She knew it was wrong to feel the tug of emotion while they spoke. She forced herself not to reach across the table and touch his hand as she so wanted to do.

He knew it was wrong to ask her to join him for dinner. He rationalized it in his mind that it was only a meal. She rationalized it the same way when she smiled and said “yes”.  This is how it began. Neither one wanting to investigate their behavior more fully. To do so would surely have meant they would have walked away from each other and remained strangers.

He thought, at first, that he could compartmentalize his life. That she would simply be a bit of enjoyment that he carved out for himself. She would not impact the rest of his life. But, as it turned out, she was not a woman who could be kept in a box. She was too full of life and his need to speak with her and be with her would not contain itself to a few hours a week.

She had a very full life before she met him. With him in her life her schedule began to overflow. If you had asked her prior to meeting him if she would ever consider seeing a married man she would have been insulted and answered a resounding “of course NOT”. Now here she was, making up last minute excuses why she couldn’t make her usual volunteer night at the hospital or meet her best friend for drinks or dinner so she could accommodate him when he could get away.

She told no one. Not her sister, her best friend, not even her hairdresser. The volunteer organizations thought her work responsibilities had increased, her friends thought she was volunteering more and should take more time for herself, her staff was grateful that she seemed to be finding a better balance between work and the rest of her life. Only she was aware of the reality of her situation.

He was amazed at how well his business continued to run without his complete focus on it twenty-four seven. Perhaps he could have gotten away in prior years to take his family on those vacations he had assured them were impossible? His wife was beginning to pressure him to spend more time at home and he began to slowly realize that there was no way this could not affect his marriage and his family.

After almost a year of seeing each other they had finally admitted to themselves and each other that this was about more than the convenience of lust. They had strong and caring feelings for each other. Feelings that came with as much pain as joy.   As he began to realize the effect the affair was having on his family, she began to realize she did not want to celebrate another Christmas in a hotel room a week after ringing in the New Year alone.

This is why tonight, almost a year since their first meeting, she found herself sitting alone in the coffee shop where they first met waiting to see if he would join her. If he showed up, this meant he had told his wife about her and had chosen a new life with her. If not, the crazy, titillating roller coaster ride of the last year had reached its end.

She did not know which life he would choose. She was well aware of the schism the affair had caused in his emotions and his life. She also believed his love for his wife was still very real. Part of her hoped that he would choose to remain with his family thereby proving to be the man she thought he was on the day they met. No part of her wanted to be the person that caused upheaval and pain for others. The other part of her, the selfish part, the part that found such happiness in his presence, was holding her breath and hoping to catch sight of him walking down the aisle of books toward their table.

As she sat and waited she realized that no matter what his decision her life would be irrevocably changed after tonight.

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